We call them the Vatican Museums. But they started (in the 1400s) as sprawling palaces where the Pope lived, dined, received ambassadors, studied late into the night, and entertained. The palaces are not unified architecturally: they are the product of hundreds of years of changing tastes and styles, and a reflection of unfolding needs and concerns.
During our visit, we’ll focus on an ancient Greek and Roman sculpture gallery, founded by Pope Julius II in the early 1500s. Many visitors will recognize Laocoon, the Trojan high priest, as he attempts to disentangle himself and his two sons from a pair of serpents. This ancient sculpture is just one of many world-famous artworks in the Vatican collections. Others will be stunned by the so-called Apollo Belvedere, an ancient Roman sculpture which inspired later artists like Michelangelo and Bernini!
Moving on to other splendidly decorated rooms and hallways, we can pit-stop in Raphael’s rooms (if time and energy allow), before ogling at the Sistine Chapel.
After taking a deep breath, we’ll plunge into Saint Peter’s Basilica, which was the largest church in the world until not long ago. Here we’ll learn about its art and history, paying honor to Michelangelo’s Pieta’ and Bernini’s Canopy.
Tickets for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel are easily pre-purchased to avoid the risk of standing in line. For more information about pre-purchasing surcharges, please see “the costs” section of this webpage. Children are eligible for a student discount together with young adults (under the age of 26) with a valid student ID. While Saint Peter’s Basilica is free of charge, transiting from the Sistine Chapel to Saint Peter’s is not. In 2019, a “transit tax” (euro 1,50/person) was applied to visitors who opted to use this convenient short-cut.